"The working-group report elaborated the Bush administration's view that the president has virtually unlimited power to wage war as he sees fit, and neither Congress, the courts nor international law can interfere. It concluded that neither the president nor anyone following his instructions was bound by the federal Torture Statute, which makes it a crime for Americans working for the government overseas to commit or attempt torture, defined as any act intended to 'inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering.' Punishment is up to 20 years imprisonment, or a death sentence or life imprisonment if the victim dies.I didn't understand that lawyers had the power to grant immunity just by writing opinions.
'In order to respect the president's inherent constitutional authority to manage a military campaign ... (the prohibition against torture) must be construed as inapplicable to interrogations undertaken pursuant to his commander-in chief authority,' the report asserted. (The parenthetical comment is in the original document.) The Justice Department 'concluded that it could not bring a criminal prosecution against a defendant who had acted pursuant to an exercise of the president's constitutional power,' the report said. Citing confidential Justice Department opinions drafted after Sept. 11, 2001, the report advised that the executive branch of the government had 'sweeping' powers to act as it sees fit because 'national security decisions require the unity in purpose and energy in action that characterize the presidency rather than Congress.'Wow...What kind of jack ass is in charge of the Justice Department anyway? I mean, I can't imagine a constitutional scholars sharing these opinions.
"The lawyers concluded that the Torture Statute applied to Afghanistan but not Guantanamo, because the latter lies within the 'special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, and accordingly is within the United States' when applying a law that regulates only government conduct abroad.Are you supposed to have a law degree to be a lawyer for the justice department? But I do understand now, this administration is doing to the law, what it has done to science - if the answers you get, aren't ones you like, make up new ones by royal fiat.
Administration lawyers also concluded that the Alien Tort Claims Act, a 1789 statute that allows noncitizens to sue in U.S. courts for violations of international law, couldn't be invoked against the U.S. government unless it consents, and that the 1992 Torture Victims Protection Act allowed suits only against foreign officials for torture or "extrajudicial killing" and "does not apply to the conduct of U.S. agents acting under the color of law."
"The Bush administration has argued before the Supreme Court that foreigners held at Guantanamo have no constitutional rights and can't challenge their detention in court. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on that question by month's end.So, by asking the lawyers first, you get an automatic get out of jail card?
For Afghanistan and other foreign locations where the Torture Statute applies, the March 2003 report offers a narrow definition of torture and then lays out defenses that government officials could use should they be charged with committing torture, such as mistakenly relying in good faith on the advice of lawyers or experts that their actions were permissible. "Good faith may be a complete defense" to a torture charge, the report advised.
"The infliction of pain or suffering per se, whether it is physical or mental, is insufficient to amount to torture," the report advises. Such suffering must be "severe," the lawyers advise, and they rely on a dictionary definition to suggest it "must be of such a high level of intensity that the pain is difficult for the subject to endure."And just how does one objectively measure the amount of pain someone feels?